Six weeks into the college basketball seson the OVC is about where you would expect in the Massey Ratings, 23rd among Division I conferences. And Murray State has been terrific so far, with an 8-2 record the Racers are ranked 49th in the nation.
The Racers' Ja Morant is widely considered to be the best point guard in the country. He is second in the league in scoring at 23.0 ppg. He is tied for 10th in rebounding at 7.0 rpg, and he leads the league and the nation in assists at 9.3 apg.
Tevin Brown is averaging 12.2 points and shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range. And Murray State is projected to win the rest of the games on its schedule.
The surprise is that the Racers are not the top ranked team in the league. Belmont is. When the Bruins head coach Rick Byrd told me at the start of the season that he was going to start three freshmen I quickly dismissed any chance they had to win the league.
After all, the Racers are loaded. And, while Kentucky might be able to get away with starting a bunch of freshmen, mid-majors don't get those kind of players.
But, Belmont freshman Nick Muszynski is averaging 14.1 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57.7 percent from the field. Freshman Grayson Murphy is averaging 12.3 points and 6.8 assists while shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range. And freshman Caleb Hollander is averaging 11.5 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range.
Throw in senior Dylan Windler (19.2 ppg and an OVC
best 9.1 rpg) and the fact that the Bruins go 6-11, 6-8, 6-8 across the front
line and you can see why they were able to beat UCLA on the road. They are far
more dangerous than I expected them to be.
Only two other teams in the OVC have winning records. Jacksonville State is 7-5 and Austin Peay is 8-4.
Jacksonville State started the season with three straight road losses. But they seem to have righted the ship as they gave West Virginia all they wanted before losing 74-72 on Saturday.
Jason Burnell leads the Gamecocks with 13.9 ppg and 8.4 rpg.
Austin Peay lost four of their first six games. But, they are currently riding a six game winning streak. Now, none of the teams they have beaten are ranked in the top 140, so I don't find that particulrly impressive. But, they could be dangerous on any given evening.
Terry Taylor leads APSU with 17.8 ppg and 8.3 r\pg.
Nick Mayo of Eastern Kentucky leads the OVC in scoring at 23.9 ppg. But EKUhas been unimpressive at 6-6.